Two Walmart employees in the Chicago area died from the coronavirus, prompting the retailer to adopt additional safety measures in the wake of the pandemic.
Neither of the two workers had been at the Evergreen Park store for at least a week, Walmart said in a statement on Sunday. It’s unclear how long either of the employees had the virus. It’s also unclear whether COVID-19 was contracted on the job.
The victims were Wando Evans, 51, and 48-year-old Phillip Thomas, Patch.com reported. Both had underlying health conditions, medical examiners told the online publication. The CDC says symptoms typically occur between two days and two weeks after exposure.
“We are heartbroken to learn of the passing of two associates at our Evergreen Park store, and we are mourning along with their families,” Walmart said in a statement to USA TODAY.
The store in question passed a third-party safety and environmental compliance test as well as a health department inspection within the past week, according to the company.
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The discount retailer also said it was changing the way it approaches sanitation following the deaths, including hiring a third-party company to clean and sanitize high-touch surfaces at the store.
Walmart recently began limiting the number of shoppers allowed in its stores in a push to promote social distancing. Starting Saturday, Walmart stores will “allow no more than five customers for each 1,000 square feet at a given time, roughly 20% of a store’s capacity,” the retailer announced Friday.
After a store reaches its capacity, shoppers will be admitted inside on a 1-out-1-in structure.
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